Saturday, January 25, 2014

Syrian situation

The Syrian peace talks are a great example of what not to do. Furthermore, the action of the supposed friends of Syria and its neighbours have shown how not to bring peace to the region. We have known since the very outset of the Syrian civil war that weapons were being supplied to anyone that wanted the by outsiders. The main entering points were from Iraq, Turkey, Israel and Iran. As these weapons flowed freely, the violence increased. Yet we had to endure the hypocrisy of world leaders talking about efforts to retain peace and providing weapons at the same time. After years of such hypocrisy, still to this day the people of Syria must live in a war zone as talking heads admonish each other. How do we end this war, do this: Build a peacekeeping force that is mandated to heavily secure the entire border of Syria. At the same time begin the complete deweaponization of Syria. Once that is done, send in a different peacekeeping force that is mandated to police the laws of Syria. While this is taking place the peace talks/elections can take place. These talks and election preparation is to be monitored and carried out a coalition of the international agencies that focus on elections and peacebuilding. The time frame for the above plan is non-existent because peace has no time line, it will happen at its own pace. That pace must be respected and allowed to evolve. Forcing peace is phrase that in reality is an oxymoron, peace can not be forced – it must be nurtured, cared for, supported and education provided. The preconditions being put upon the peace talks such as who will lead Syria after the peace talks, who is at the table or finger pointing only prove to set the entire talks to fail. This failure will provoke further violence and for what - So that some half wit can get a verbal rebuke across? Such childish idiocy is what we are now getting for leadership in todays diplomacy leadership. The first mandate of a peace talk is to never pick a side. At this point everyone is responsible for each death so the finger pointing and blaming are a waste of time. In reality all we get from such tactics is a higher body count. Already we have children who can not recall a peaceful Syria, or even what life is like outside a refugee camp. These are the realities of poor leadership around the world today. Sadly, I think this situation will be with us for the next 12 years at least.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Culture is important to peace

Tribal methods of keeping peace are the foundations of modern society. Forgetting these links appears to be one of the largest factors in why the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed. In much of the research that deals with peaceful societies, peace is more prevalent than many have come to believe. This is the case with Afghanistan. Although the Taliban government after 1994 was not a welcomed transition, there was a peaceful semblance of order under the Taliban. This reality is hard to understand when balanced with the stories of public executions, segregated schools and news of societal violence. What is often lost in the fog of war are the linkages of society which would remain alive. The cultural ways of dealing with issues remain because that is what the people are use to. These linkages must be used and supported for as long as necessary. What often happens is that the old methods are disposed of because foreigners see them as part of the problem. The same thing took place hundreds of years ago in North America. Today many of those ideas are now being put back because of those methods actually were useful and are often more efficient that what replaced them. For example courts in modern society are often slow and not community focused. We are seeing a resurgence in restorative justice programs. Such methods were the only method of dealing with issues that broke the peace in society. The elders were the ones that dispensed the program and ultimately ensured that peace returned. Such methods were alive and used in Afghanistan and Iraq. When those methods were broken a power vacuum was created. This power vacuum was a major component of why the military efforts failed. The governments that were propped up had no real authority with the average person. When the propped up government tried to execute its authority it was seen as a tribal power grab than a legitimate use of force. For those that study the transitions of society in times of violent upheaval, it is well know that a semblance of the past needs to be maintained. Some structures of culture are best preserved so the people can feel comfortable and secure. If such structures are not kept the transition will take longer to be successful if it is ever successful. People have to feel that they are part of the transition. This is the ownership of peace that must be felt as widely as possible. Peace is not something that can be imposed upon a person. The very notion is a contradiction in reality and is exactly what was being done in Afghanistan and Iraq. “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Trust is a large component of peace. If the people do not trust the government or the people in government, peace is not possible. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, peace was possible until the foreign military started caring more for their own security than the people who they were to protect. The average person knows that peace was not going to happen when they saw troops being transported by helicopter. This lack of peace was further noticed when troops traveled in fast moving convoys to remain safe. The culture of peace was lost early on and the people understood this before the foreign governments even noticed. The people resorted to the old methods of doing things. This set back was fought hard by the new governments. However each fight brought more insecurity and distrust. Had the new governments embraced the old ways of doing things and brought peace in slowly we may have seen a different outcome. However we tried to hurry in peace, to buy peace, to impose peace with a smoke and mirror strategy. Culture takes time to both build and transition. In Afghanistan and Iraq we tried to bully people into peace.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Peace in Iraq and Afghanistan

In both countries, many military efforts to bring peace will be seen as wasted efforts, as time passes. Even though that history will be forever, we have the future to ensure the next efforts are successful. What can be done? There are some efforts that were made and are worth repeating. These efforts are the community peacebuilding programs which bring trust and stability to the people. We know that the people who seek to bring havoc to communities use fear. What we have to do is use the same tactics with trust replacing fear. Such efforts were being used by military and others to build peace. Fear needs little exposure to make an impact. Trust needs a great deal of exposure. This is the battle. This battle can be summed up in the cliché, one bad apple destroys the bunch. Fear preys on the individual to stand in the shadows, and it works. Peace relies on the individual as well, yet in the face of personal injury it is understandable why fear often wins. Such tactics are used in gang warfare, organized crime and as we have witnessed with terrorism. The only way to defeat fear is to have individuals believe in peace more than in fear. In peace operations there is the term sector security reform. This term relates to securing peace to a specific area. In the battle between fear and peace the sector is both the personal mind and the community. When we use physical tactics such as military the war of fear begins. As we have seen, the war of fear is rarely won by those who seek to bring peace. This is a reality in part due to the hypocrisy of using violence to bring peace. We have two examples of such situations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Peace is very much a long term goal. Peace requires the best of courage, strength, resilience, patience, wisdom and care, day in and day out. The trust begins to be built when those that ask for assistance receive it. Peace is obtained when the people who seek to destroy it are called out by the community. In many peaceful countries there are communities where peace does not exist because of fear. Such situations are examples of the constant work that is needed to sustain peace. The task is difficult and often takes more courage to wield than it does to shoot and or kill another. The steps to peace are to support education of wisdom, caring and fostering hope for children. Any act of violence will displace peace and breed fear, even if it is done in the name of peace. Such hypocrisy is why peace eludes most armies and why peace has not taken root in either Afghanistan or Iraq.